Sunrise for the European but sunset for the Chinese? A Critical Analysis of Chinese participation in Horizon 2020

Authors: Chunrong Liu and Ma Yi

This report traces the development of EU–China research engagement from 2014 to middle 2016 in Horizon 2020. The key findings are as the following:

● Compared with previous Framework Programs (FPs), Chinese participation has declined significantly in Horizon 2020 so far. Both the number of projects and the number of Chinese participants dropped from FP7 to Horizon 2020.
● Compared with other third countries, both the share of eligible applications from China and the share of Chinese participation in signed grant agreements decreased from FP7 to Horizon 2020;
● While becoming increasingly involved as Principal Coordinator in previous FPs, no Chinese participant serves as a Principal Coordinator so far in Horizon 2020.

What then accounts for this decline? We suggest that the funding rule matters. The fact that Chinese participants are no longer eligible for EU funding in Horizon 2020, except under exceptional circumstances, is consequential. Although a Co-Funding Mechanism (CFM) has been recently set up to deal with the funding issue, we argue that the mechanism as established remains rather restrictive and uncertain for Chinese participants. As things stand, one cannot expect productive research engagement between China and EU unless the CFM is made to be more researcher-friendly, unified, and streamlined.

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